Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ★★

Unfortunately my worry mentioned in my No Way Home review about what an MCU Sam Raimi movie would look like has been fully realized. I mistakingly thought this was going to be one of the big films they were working up towards with all the multiverse developments but it ended up just being another subplot. Even when accepting during the film that it was going in a different direction, I still could never really get sucked in. And just like No Way Home, the conflict once again is solved way too easily and conveniently by something that could've happened at any point in the movie. I love the Evil Dead trilogy and Raimi's direction with Spiderman 1 & 2, but it just didn't feel like he was on his game in this one. I have no doubt he had a much stricter set of rules making this film than those, but even moments where his typical style shone through it was just in uninspired scenes with no real feeling of stakes. On top of that, the MCU phase 4 vfx problem continues as there were countless shots where the effects stood out in the worst way.

The parallel universes story has now given them fan service capabilities on steroids as they just throw in any character or actor they want for an audience reaction, without having the actual responsibility of giving them an interesting or significant role. Don't get me wrong, those moments can be really fun but when they take up so much of a film that already hasn't been going much of anywhere it just feels like wasted time. They also utilize this new multiverse to remove any major story commitments or long lasting consequences. Now there's clearly ways to go this direction and still have actual repercussions for actions, because they did it well with Loki season 1, but The Multiverse of Madness is just void of any weight to potential deaths or damage.

I feel like this should've just been a Wanda movie with Dr. Strange involved rather than the opposite. I like Benedict Cumberbatch but Elizabeth Olsen has just so far surpassed him with her acting prowess in my opinion, and as a result I'd much rather be watching her. Considering this film is basically just the continuation of Wandavision it's inexplicable why they centered it on Strange. I also think Benedict Wong's character is always a fun addition, but if featured too much his chronic over-acting becomes very distracting. Newcomer Xochitl Gomez was good though and I'm curious to see what capacity they use her in for future installments.

Despite this and No Way Home leaving me unsatisfied, I'm still very excited for Love and Thunder purely because of Taika Waititi's direction. If that lets me down, then my last hope for phase 4's movie plan may go with it.

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